Friday, March 4, 2011

Dealing with Haters

First of all: phew! I'm alive! I've spent the past week just buried in work (Monday and Tuesday literally did not leave my room or the library except for essential bathroom/food breaks) and am still in the thick of it but am, mercifully, beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I officially only have two longer papers (one 2500 words, one 5000), one short paper, and an oral presentation between me and spring break freedom. Rejoice!

I'd also like to thank everyone that responded to my last post. I'm LOVING all of your blogs (perfect procrastination material!!) and can't wait to keep reading!

Anyway, the past few weeks I've been upping my running because my official 16-week marathon countdown begins on Saturday (!!!) - I'm up to jogging very comfortably (albeit VERY slowly) for 30ish minutes four times a week, which is on track for my schedule, so I'm feeling good so far.

In general, Oxford is a dream to run in: plenty of winding, car-free back roads that I can zigzag my way through plus a healthy smattering of parks, riverside walking paths, and big pedestrian thoroughfares. There are a lot of other joggers out and about, so it's not like back on the roads around where I stayed in Aiken in high school where people would look at me like they'd never seen someone running for pleasure before in their lives. There are plenty of sidewalks so that running in the road isn't really an issue, but even when that does happen drivers are good about giving enough room, even on tinily narrow streets.

(Magpie lane is a hilariously narrow street right near my college - I took this photo in summer 2006, having no idea that five years later I'd be running by this sign almost every day!)

But on my run yesterday, I met up with some haters. I don't know if perhaps I was wearing something unusual or was looking particularly out of place or what, but within 30 seconds of stepping out the door I was hit with my first cat call in Oxford. It was a pretty minor one, so I was able to pretty much ignore it, but within another minute or so, boom! Another one! This time a group of boys drove up, slowed down beside me with windows rolled down, and proceeded to drive next to me for about thirty seconds jeering and yelling. I was finally able to get away by turning into a park, only to have a man PUSHING A BABY CARRIAGE wolf whistle at me within a few seconds of coming in. Seriously, male population? Not making yourselves look too good.

I admit that I don't deal with this sort of attention very well. I had a total breakdown one day when my family went to Egypt because I just couldn't handle the comments, and going to Turkey by myself was one of more stressful things I've ever done for the sole reason of unwanted male attention. In high school I would go extremely out of my way to run in places where no one would see me, and would get serious stress attacks if I had to go running on busy roads or public places. Because of the marathon, though, I've been forcing myself to practice running in more hectic places because I know that, come race day, there are going to be a lot of people around!

(One of marathon running's most famous haters, Cornelius Horan, who attacked the leader of the Athens Olympic marathon with less than 10k to go, delaying him for a precious 20 seconds that would eventually cost him the win)

I must say though that yesterday, despite it being by far my toughest day so far in terms of unwanted attention, I did pretty well. I've come up with some motivating phrases to say to myself when I get a little panicked, and it's surprising how effective they can be. It's just another reminder of how amazing your mind can be when you get it working for you instead of against you. Now I just have to figure out how to turn this to riding, where the haters are usually coming from within my own head...

6 comments:

Barbara said...

I looked up Cornelius Horan. After I read about him I realized that I knew who he was, just not the name. What a nut case. Perhaps there are too many nuts running around GB these days? (not like we don't have plenty here!) I hope your 'admirers' from your run were just a coincidence, what a PITA.

Suzanne said...

And, I love the fact that you know that the haters in your riding live in your head. You are an amazing person... rider, writer and photographer. You go girl!

Val said...

How rude! Glad you were able to leave them in the dust.

Jen said...

I'm a lifelong runner too, and it's all part of it, unfortunately. I even ran in Italy, and they cat call at anything that moves whether it's running or not, dressed in a turtleneck sweater or a sports bra.

It sucks, but I wouldn't call them haters. They're not making fun of you, they're trying to get your attention, albeit in a way that is totally undesirable. They find you, an attractive woman trying to stay fit, to be good looking and are acting on it through testosterone and immaturity.

You're a strong woman and you can mentally push through it. Just hold your head up high and keep going!

Dom said...

How rude! And completely uncalled for...

Leah said...

Ah the leering of the English... Still drives me crazy and I don't live there anymore. What used to drive me crazy was them leaving their newspapers open to page 3 on their desks at work. And the fact that they could buy porn mags at the work concession. I was working as a professional for an international company and no one cared - told me not to be so sensitive, my NA boss was livid. Still makes me mad. It's a different country for sure. I would have changed professions (sw eng.)if I had stayed, couldn't take the male dominated work force. Keep tuning them out, they aren't going to stop.

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